Court victory for Hartford Marina tenants who took on Environment Agency

Hartford Marina redsidents victory, (l-r) Secretary of Hartford Marina Community Association Sue Rod

Hartford Marina redsidents victory, (l-r) Secretary of Hartford Marina Community Association Sue Rodwell-Smith, and Glen Parker, - Credit: Archant

Residents living at Hartford Marina are celebrating after magistrates quashed the convictions of two men who refused to buy a river licence for their static homes.

Christopher Gibbs and Glen Parker have been involved in a long-running dispute with the Environment Agency (EA).

The EA had insisted that all tenants at the marina pay £400 for a navigation licence, even those whose homes cannot be taken on the water. The two men and 60 other tenants live in static caravans that are secured to a landing stage.

A year ago, Mr Parker and Mr Gibbs received letters threatening them with legal action if they didn’t buy a licence and in January this year they were prosecuted and fined £2,000 each.

Mr Parker, 56, described it as a bitter blow, but said he and Mr Gibbs were determined to fight on, although others on the site paid up.

The Hartford Marina Community Association (HMCA) set up a “fighting fund” and helped the two men launch an appeal.

On Friday (April 10), magistrates at Peterborough quashed the convictions after ruling the homes were “not vessels” and did not require a river licence.

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Sue Rodwell Smith, secretary of the HMCA, described the decision as a “victory for common sense”.

“It was ridiculous for the Environment Agency to suggest that static homes were vessels as they have no means of navigating the water.”

Mr Parker said it had been a long and tortuous ordeal, but he wasn’t crowing, just relieved,

“It was such a relief that justice was served and we can now get on with our lives. The Environment Agency does a fantastic job on the river, but in this case they were wrong.”

The EA issued a statement which read: “We are currently considering the implication of the court ruling of this type of structure, but vessel owners should be clear that we expect them to register with the Environment Agency as normal and this case doesn’t affect our ability to prosecute them for failing to register their vessel.”